The Shih Tzu comes from Tibet, and its origin probably dates back to the 7th century when it may have been simply a small Lhasa apso. Traditionally given as a gift to Chinese emperors, the Shih Tzu was developed over the ages before becoming the breed as we know it today. Breeders believe that the Shih Tzu would have been crossed with the Pekingese to reduce its face length and that the smaller ones among the Lhasa apso were deliberately selected to create the breed.
Shih Tzu means “lion dog” in Chinese, which adds to the confusion as to the origins of the breed since this term is usually used to refer to the Pekingese.
The Shih Tzu was a favorite companion of Chinese rulers, who devoted themselves to its breeding. Following the arrival of the British in China, the breed was introduced to England and subsequently to the United States. The Shih Tzu population in China came close to extinction after the Chinese Communist Party came to power.
Everyone agrees that this charming little dog was developed to serve as a pet. From the start, it was obvious that the Shih Tzu would make a wonderful companion.
Characteristics of the Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is small in size and this is what appeals to him since he will not take up much space in the house. It has a balanced physiognomy and a vigorous and compact body ending in a tail rolled up on the back and fringed. Females are between 20 and 25 cm in size while males are between 22 and 26 cm. Its head is large and round and topped with drooping ears with particularly well-supplied hairs whose density is so high that they mix with body hair. The eyes are round, dark in color, and reveal a lot of mischief. The Shih Tzu sports a dense, long, and smooth coat. The coat can be fawn, white or black punctuated with spots.
The Shih Tzu is prone to gain weight easily and they can quickly become obese if we multiply the treats. He doesn’t need – nor taste – to walk a mile a day, but he likes to walk, and his owner needs to make sure he keeps in shape. In obedience and agility tests, the Shih Tzu has some success. If he is exercising in hot and humid weather, he should be supervised; Due to its short muzzle, the Shih Tzu is susceptible to heatstroke.
The coat of the Shih Tzu can be a real headache for its owner. Most people shed twice a year, giving the dog a good appearance and an easy-care coat. If the coat is kept long, it takes a lot of time to care for the coat. We must bathe it every week, oil it to prevent it from felting, and finally, brush it every day to remove debris or foreign bodies. If the hair is particularly soft, it will have a much more tendency to felt than if it is of the correct texture.
Daily, the Shih Tzu tends to require a lot of attention. He loves the company of people and can easily become a “spoiled child”. He is receptive to training and enjoys learning to do tricks, these activities making him the center of attention. The Shih Tzu gets along well with people of all ages but should be socialized with children while he is a young puppy. One should not rely on the Shih Tzu to guard the house; he would undoubtedly be too welcoming to burglars!
If you are fond of this little long-haired dog, know that you are not the only one. Several personalities like Bill Gates, Tenzi Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, and the famous hairdresser, Vidal Sassoon have all fallen in love with this companion.
He is familiar with life in the country or the city. Being a quiet little dog, he is very popular with people living in housing and the elderly. This breed of dog is a little less suitable for families with young children, as it does not like to be disturbed. However, this situation can happen with any dog. You just have to educate children to respect the dog’s bubble.
Like all dogs, the Shih Tzu needs to go out a few times a day to use up his energy, be mentally stimulated, and do his business. In addition, you will also need:
In short, the Shih Tzu is a great companion dog for those looking for a calm, affectionate dog that requires little exercise. It adapts easily to most climates and barks very little, only to warn of strangers in most cases.
You have to be very careful, because it is very greedy, which makes it prone to overweight. Do not take lightly the maintenance of his hair, his ears, and his eyes, at the risk of developing problems quickly.